Fireman’s Drinking Fountain

Location: Slatington, Pennsylvania, USA

A 12 foot high drinking fountain manufactured by the E.T. Barnum Company of Detroit, Michigan with the statue of a fireman was purchased with the help of local subscriptions. It was erected in 1910 on Main Street to provide drinking water to people, horses and dogs. It was dedicated on April 10, 1910 by Hose Company # 1, Slatington.

The fountain is seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth housing a small trough at ground level for dogs and smaller animals. The pedestal supports a large fluted demi-lune trough at the roadside for the use of horses which was removed sometime prior to 1960 per photographic evidence. A smaller fluted basin facing the sidewalk allowed humans to quench their thirst. A cornice of egg and dart moulding is located beneath the capital which supports a statue of a fireman.

The 7 foot 3 inches high zinc statue depicts a volunteer fireman with handlebar moustache, wearing a rubber fire coat, rubber boots, and a pointed hat. The statue carries a child on his left arm and a lantern in his right hand which is illuminated with an electric light bulb. The statue was purchased from J. W. Fiske Iron Works, New York City. It represents past and present volunteers in the Slatington region. In 2002, to honor the firefighters who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, one of the statue’s gold buttons was painted “NYFD”. The piping on the clothes of the child was changed to blue instead of pink – the reason for changing the sex of the child is unknown.

Throughout its history the structure was hit twice by an automobile. The incident in 1979 beheaded the statue initiating a costly restoration and re-dedication on July 19, 1980 following a large parade. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The structure was rededicated on 11 September 2010 as part of its 100th anniversary.

 

Glossary

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Egg and dart, a carving of alternating oval shapes and dart or arrow shapes
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

 

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4 responses to “Fireman’s Drinking Fountain

  • Fred Lauzus

    The description “The fountain is seated on a two tiered hexagonal plinth” is incorrect. The plinth is octagonal.

  • Fred Lauzus

    I have just visited this fountain and spoke with one of the locals involved with its restoration. This fountain was rendered inoperable by a collision in the 1940’s destroying the horse and dog basins. No one I spoke with knew how it originally worked.

    How were the three basins of this type of fountain usually fed? There is what appears to be an oversize spout curving into the horse trough, but no apparent valve.

    The diameter of this spout seems excessive for this purpose. Did it house some type of regulator? Was this a constant flow, regulated by a float valve or on demand?

    Also how were the dog basins typically fed? I can see no spout but noticed there are two holes in the base that appear to be larger than required for mounting holes. Was one the feed and the other the overflow?

    I have seen fountains of similar design featuring an oversize spout in the horse basin and holes in the dog basin. These include the Metuchen fountain, the Centennial fountain, the Babylon Fountain and the original Temperance Fountain in La Grande.

  • HIS

    Unfortunately, I have few answers to your questions.
    Ground level basins were fed with overflow water from drinking basins and troughs.
    The reason for the size of the spout is unknown. Perhaps it was a safety feature so that horses did not damage themselves on spouts or protruding pipes, or to prevent children from trying to drink from the same tap as a horse (children were known to sit in horse troughs during the heat of the summer) This is purely conjecture on my behalf and I have no concrete answer to give you .

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